This week has featured a couple of significant landmarks for me as I navigate the choppy waters of alternate gender presentation. One was expected, the other wasn't, but they were both very welcome.
Last week I wrote about my hair having finally reached a length at which it can be presented in a female style. As I wrote then, last night I went out for the first time wigless presenting as female, to this month's Swindon TG Group meeting.
Fantastic, not having to worry about a wig.
I flatter myself that I don't look too bad in my wig, but I have never felt secure in it. Aside from a comedy moment in which it became hooked in a climbing rose at a friend's barbecue it has never parted company with my head, but it is the feeling that it could do so which has has haunted me. Maybe my head isn't a good shape or something, but I have always felt that the wig is trying to work its way upwards. A keen observer would probably notice my hairline oscillating over the course of an evening, hardly a good look.
So I was very happy indeed to spend the evening at the support group and join the usual meal at an Italian restaurant, all without a thought to the security of my coiffure. Nobody noticed me in the car park as we mixed with the Swindon late-night revellers, and my confidence knew no bounds.
That was the expected landmark, what about the unexpected one? An aspect of my medication that has rather crept up on me in the last month or two is that I seem to have experienced one of the side-effects of Finasteride. The thought of gynaecomastia triggers the imagination towards hoping for the kind of breast growth that might come to someone given a hormone prescription, so since I have resolutely failed to sport a chest that might make Dolly Parton proud I had always concluded that I had missed out on that one. But over the past month or so I've begun to realise that I've very slowly gained a little more there than I had before. Nothing you'd notice in my scruffy male guise, but let's say my man-boobs are a lot more wobbly than they used to be. In fact, if they are marshaled into place, they even start to resemble something that might have a cleavage, and without involving the yards of surgical tape employed to that effect by some people of my acquaintance. Could a bust, however small, have crept up on me? Time to find out.
Small bras in larger band sizes can be hard to come by. I'm fortunate in that my 38 inch band size places me within the normal female range, but it seems few women with my ribcage size are under-endowed. Fortunately the British standby on matters of female underwear, Marks and Spencer, do cover 38A in their range, so this afternoon when my wife and I found ourselves in time we paid M&S a visit.
I settled on their "2 sizes bigger" push-up bra. I've heard others praising this product so it was time to see whether it could work its magic on me. Sadly I didn't have the chutzpah to have a bra fitting in a crowded store while presenting as my scruffy bloke persona, so I had to make my purchase and try it on at home.
The result is rather pleasing. This bra is one of the more padded bras on the market, it seems to be more padding than bra. However when my meagre endowment is scooped up behind the padding it does give a pleasing curve above the cup and a definite, though small, cleavage. And it's comfortable to wear, something you can't always say for breastforms.
I have replaced breastforms with a bra that all but contains breastforms, but the key result here is like that of going wigless. Just as having my own hair puts me on the same footing as any other woman, so too does presenting a credible female bustline to the world using only enhancements made for natal women.
And those two coming together in the same weekend is nothing short of priceless.